So today, the Minister of Social Development, Paula Bennett, announced a saving of $10.5mil by WINZ through the stopping of payments to people on benefits who were travelling overseas. The details of the announcement are here. But the key point is this
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says more than 21,000 people have had their benefit cut for travelling overseas since July last year.
“We tightened the overseas travel rules as part of welfare reform and have saved New Zealand more than $10.5 million in suspended payments for beneficiaries who still chose to travel.
“That’s a staggering number of people. More than 1,750 people have had their benefit suspended for multiple overseas trips. This includes 191 people who travelled three times and 1,555 who have travelled twice since last July.
This has generated two responses from MPs. First we have Jami-Lee Ross, National MP for Botany.
Who expanded on this on Facebook.
Now, it is not the place of this blog to discus policy, however the response from Jami-Lee here is bound to mainly resonate with those who are already supportive of the party and the policy of benefit reform.
However, it is not only Jami-Lee who is responding in a predictable fashion to this announcement. Jan Logie has responded to the announcement by attacking the policy as “paternalistic”.
As an MP, part of the point of being on social media is to try to attract new voters, blandly attacking, or supporting, policies isn’t going to do that. Social media, particularly Facebook, should provide MPs a chance to provide a more nuanced explanation of their views.
Now it looks like Jan has done this on her Facebook Profile.
However, these explanations again fall into the preaching to the choir format, with elements that suggest that Jan hasn’t read the announcement in full.
“The rules, while tighter, still allow for overseas travel on compassionate or health grounds in certain cases for job seekers. People without work obligations may in most cases travel overseas for up to 28 days.
All sides, for there are normally many more than two, of a policy debate should consider how their social media posts will advance their position. Will they help convince more people to support them? Or will it generate negative responses? Also, make sure you have read the announcement in full.